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					                  Shaping the future of TACSO
         Main recommendations from the Euclid Network
                       consultation




Authors: Filippo Addarii, Euclid Network
          Luisa De Amicis, Euclid Network
          Lucas Fulling, Euclid Network
          Ivelina Fedulova, Euclid Network



For further information, please contact Luisa De Amicis at Luisa.deamicis@euclidnetwork.eu
Index :



   1) Executive Summary

   2)     Overview

   3) TACSO- Strengths and Weakness

   4) Improving TACSO

   5) Next steps

   6) Conclusions

   7) Annex
   a) Annex 1- Euclid Network’s activities in the region
   b) Annex 2- List of contributors to the consultation
Executive Summary:

The Western Balkans (WB) are an integral part of Europe and a key geographic region for Euclid
Network (EN). The region’s turbulent past and times of instability have now been replaced by
development, prosperity and steadiness. As a result, the Western Balkans now have a progressing
civil society which, despite its efforts to gain influence and a greater say, is nevertheless still weak
and in need of support.

This is precisely the aim of both TACSO and the Euclid Network- to enable the capacity building of
civil society organisations (CSO) and thus allow them to fully and effectively take part in the
participative democracies of the Western Balkans.

With the end of the first TACSO cycle drawing nearer, EN has been asked to provide deeper
understanding of the local needs and how to improve the programme in order to ensure higher
efficiency and effectiveness during the next TACSO cycle, which will start in August 2011.

EN runs a number of activities1 in region and cooperates with a number of regional partners, thereby
allowing us to have a constructive view on the necessities of civil society in the area. These also
provide EN with the necessary legitimacy to provide recommendations and support for the TACSO
programme.

This consultation is particularly important to Euclid Network as we are a facilitator of experts,
especially local experts, rather than simply imposing a western approach on disempowered
indigenous organisations. After all, no one can know better what is needed than the civil society
organisations based in the region. It is because of this that we welcome TACSO’s request for us to
provide recommendations and we welcome the contribution of our civil society friends in the
countries of the region.

Our consultation work has identified that the TACSO programme is valued by civil society
organisations as it provides opportunities, which would have not been otherwise available to CSOs.
Yet, the programme faces some weaknesses, predominantly to do with communications and in
dealing with small and newly founded organisations. Based on the experience in the region, the
main recommendations to improve the next cycle of the TACSO programme are:

             Training and resources specific to the different organisations and with focus on financial
              sustainibility
             Advocacy both at national and European level to represent the needs and interests of CSOs
              and in order to reduce the red tape for civil society
             Exchanges: P2P beyond Brussels to increase the networking and cooperation between
              regional organisation, as well a likeminded organisations across Europe
             Social Innovation competition for the Balkans to tackle social problems
             Openness, both in regards to transparency and openness for new organisations and new
              methods
             Observatories : transparency and inclusiveness
             Create a social investment fund for the Balkans


1
    Annex I
OverviewFollowing TACSO’s request for EN’s recommendations to the programme, in June 2011
CSOs across the Western Balkans region were sent a questionnaire based around 5 questions:

1.       What worked within TACSO 1? What should be retained?
2.       What didn't work with TACSO 1? Why not?
3.       What should the priorities be for TACSO 2?
4.       Which practical activities should be considered to address the priorities?
5.       What suggestions do you have for the period following TACSO 2 (due to end in August 2013)?


The results generally depict TACSO in a positive way by organisations experienced in working with
TACSO. It appear that most of TACSO’s activities are located in Serbia as most comments for the
consultation stem from there. Comments from other regions stated that there is a lack visibility and
that it is difficult to access and its activities are mainly concentrated in the capitals.

Nevertheless, NGOs have pointed out a number of points that provide a good basis for
improvements and clearly underline some of the weak points of TACSO.

TACSO - Strenghts and Weaknesses

TACSO is a good and practical programme, which has provided knowledge and expertise for civil
society and has offered excellent opportunities that did not exist before. In relation to this there
have been a number of activities, which have been singled out as necessary to remain. Such are:

          Study tours as a method of capacity building for CSO expert and leaders
          Training for local, small grassroots organizations
          TACSO Local Advisory Groups, as they have proven to be efficient, diverse and function with
           great potential which should be further explored
          Initiated regional cooperation needs to be established further and expanded
          Exchange programmes, as exchange of ideas and experience adds value and increases the
           capacity of NGOs and builds networks
          Training and seminars in the field of strengthening NGOs, advocacy, writing a PADOR and EU
           projects

The weakness of TACSO, on the other hand, can be grouped in two main sections:

     1. communications and
     2. dealing with small/newly founded organisations.

As far as new organisations are concerned, there is a sense that TACSO tends to work and provide
information to already established organisations, which are already part of its database. Newly
founded or small organisations (ones that specialise in a certain problem area, for example) are
excluded. This also applies to organisations which are based outside of big cities/regions.
Majority of concerns, however, were generated from the communications side of the
programme.Most organisations feel that information is not disseminated well enough within TACSO.
The information that is disseminated is too general and not specific enough to address the needs of
the organisations. For example, more information should be provided on field specific activities, as
well information on EU organisations that work in those fields as well. NGOs should also be given the
opportunity to provide feedback and discuss ideas and issues on a platform such as an online forum,
which new organisation can refer to as well. The need for information centres to provide guidance
and information on competitions, assistance in budgeting and preparation of narrative and financial
reports, as well as local and regional offices to improve communication has been highlighted by
organisations. CSOs have mentioned that many organisations do not have a clear idea of what
TACSO is doing exactly. This is particularly true for those organisations that are not based in the
capitals, as the information flow does not seem to reach them. Furthemore, networking
opportunities for both organisations in the different countries and across Europe need to be
improved so that organisation can find likeminded partners and establish co-operative relationships.



Improving TACSO

Much of the resulting suggestions for TACSO 2 arebased on the criticisms on TACSO 1, as already
mentioned above. Communications, need for better networking opportunities and more work with
small/newly founded/regional organisations are being brought up repetitively. The better use of
media, social media and an improved website (in terms of design and information provided on
specific goals) are amongst the suggestions that need to be focused on. Providing networks for both
regional cooperation and European cooperation and underlining their importance is seen as
necessary

Further and more specific suggestions included:

       Training, resources and guidance:

- Focus on financial sustainability- more specified resources especially on financial sustainability and
of financial alternatives to donor funds (public social private partnerships, developments of
volunteering, etc.) and capacity building for accessing alternatives.

- Promote financial sustainability for NGOs, especially through partnerships . Partnerships should be
established on both levels, regional (between CSOs in 8 TACSO countries) and European (between
CSOs in the West Balkan region and their counterparts in EU countries).

    
        -    Provide training specific to the level of expertise of an organisation, whether beginners
        or advanced organisations
        -    More capacity building alternatives related to service delivery as defined in the new Law
        of Social Protection, as well as facilities which would aid and enhance participation in the
        process of service standardization, to enhance inclusiveness and democracy
        -    Information needs to be provided in the native languages of the specific countries and
        regions as well
      Advocacy both at national and European level- TACSO should lobby to reduce the red tape
       on both levels and to represent CSOs’ interests. This also includes lobbying to national
       governments, such as the Serbian government, to allow NGOs which have knowledge and
       experience in certain areas to take over the work of local governments and authorities, as
       they usually lack such skills. Lobbying the EU for better policies towards civil society, and
       more specifically for less bureaucratic rules (i.e PRAG) is vital.
   
      Exchanges: P2P beyond Brussels.
       - Activities to facilitate communication and build partnerships between CSOs and local
           government and institutions
       - Joint training of NGOs and local governments
       - This also includes more socialising between different organisations during exchanges
           and allowing organisations to be able to socialise with more organisation that work in
           fields similar to theirs.
      Social Innovation competition for the Balkans - Encouraging social entrepreneurship to help
       finding solutions for poorer areas, similar to the Naples 2.0 Social Innovation Competition,
       which Euclid Network is currently organisaing
      Openness is a great strength. Even the LAG principle, even if the details can be criticised.
      Observatories : transparency and inclusiveness. Observatories will promote aid effectiveness
       and civil society cooperation and relations with the EU by allowing CSOs to provide feedback
       on their experience in engaging with European institutions. In such way good practice can be
       encouraged and bad practices can be identified and either removed or improved. This would
       allow greater transparency in the process and a sense of ownership and trust amongst
       European citizens
      Create a social investment fund for the Balkans

Future Steps

The period following the second TACSO cycle would depend on the results and the needs of CSOs
after its implementation. If the general suggestions are taken over the programme would gain in
strength. However, one should keep in mind the fluctuating nature of CSO’s needs in times of
transition.

Nevertheless, an exit strategy should be prepared in advance as the TACSO programme will end
eventually and when that does happen, there should already be a prepared plan for leaving the
region. This strategy should be a flexible one though, in order to allow for it to accommodation
specific needs and situations that will be existing when the programme ends but at the same time it
also needs to be able to provide a solid basis for the final exit strategy.

Conclusions
Annex I

EN’S ACTIVITIES AND PROJECTS IN THE REGION


EN currently advises the European Commission, DG Enlargement, on the IPA Civil Society Facility,
through being an active member of the EU Programming Committee.



In addition EN is currently working on several projects:



       Strengthening Serbia-EU Civil Society Dialogue


The one year project, funded by the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia has
a double objective: to develop effective, dialogue-driven connections between Serbian and EU-
based civil society networks and to improve the financial sustainability of Serbian CSOs.

The objectives are being pursued by running the following activities:

            Exchanges between Serbian civil society leaders and EU peers
            Consultation seminars on the draft formal agreements and cooperation frameworks,
             organised for Serbian civil society
            Financial sustainability masterclasses for Serbian civil society leaders and
             professionals, involving EU-based civil society representatives
            Briefings on financial sustainability for Serbian civil society organisations, involving
             both EU and Serbian contributions and case studies
            Conference to present project results, launch briefings, and announce network
             agreements and framework for cooperation.


       Macedonia project


This four month project will research and run training on the possibilities for Macedonian CSOs from
social enterprise and social innovation. EN’s role is to research social enterprise across the EU and
provide experts for training to be run ni Macedonia.


       Partnership with the Intesa Sanpaolo banking group

Intesa Sanpaolo is a major pan-European banking group with subsidiaries in Serbia, Albania, Bosnia
and Croatia. The partnership will promote financial sustainability within Serbian NGOs and explores
possibilities for Banca Intesa Beograd to develop new financial products that will address the needs
of the civil society on the ground. The recent press conference given by Euclid Netowrk and Banca
Intesa also saw the launch of the working group on financial sustainability and financial inclusion for
NGOs in Serbia. The aim of the working group is to advise Banca Intesa in order to provide new
banking services for CSOs and thereby facilitating their relations with institutions such as the bank.


EN has recently finished its first project in the region, which focussed on increasing the sustainability
of CSOs’ funding models in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. The 18-month civil society
development project funded by The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), increased
democratic demand by empowering civil society with a unique methodology: connecting leaders
across borders to facilitate peer learning and cooperation, for the development of more innovative
and cohesive societies in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.
Annex II
The following people have contributed to this consultation:Blendi Dibra, LDA Shkodra (Albania)

Branislava Zarkovic, "Housing Center Housing Development Center for Socially Vulnerable Groups"
(Serbia)

Cecilija Dujin, Group Paad-PAAD centre for socioculturology exceptionalness (Serbia)

Edina Popov, APOS (Serbia)

Igor Milosevic, ADP ZID (Montenegro)

Jasna Filipovic, CRNPS (Serbia)

Margareta Kecman, Societies for Work with People with Developmental Disabilities (Serbia)

Milena Krstic, National Coalition for Decentralization (Serbia)

Mirjana Tomic, Citizen's Association Kula (Serbia)

Miroslava Jovanovic, Association of Single Mothers Nis (Serbia)

Neven Marinovic. Smart Kolektiv (Serbia)

				
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